The Keurig coffee maker is a dream come true for busy people who need to get a fast cup of coffee in the morning. Its basic design and simple operation make it a natural addition for both homes and businesses, giving you the ability to brew multiple types of drinks in a short time span.
While its ease of operation makes using a Keurig a simple task, this can make things even more frustrating when the machine stops working correctly. Whether your machine is brewing too slowly or only producing partial cups, fixing Keurig coffee maker problems is often an easy task you can do in just a few minutes.
Simplest Keurig Coffee Maker Repair
In this disposable-minded society, many people think their Keurig is broken and ready for the trashcan when it stops working correctly. Symptoms like only brewing half cups of coffee or refusing to brew at all might seem like the end of your coffee maker's life, but in many cases, it only means that it needs a thorough cleaning.
Keurigs don't come with instructions for deep cleaning the machine, so it's natural to think they don't have any need for regular maintenance – but a periodic cleaning is the best way to ensure your coffee maker keeps brewing your favorite drinks every day.
Keurig Not Brewing a Full Cup?
If you're constantly frustrated at only getting a partial cup of coffee, even if your machine's reservoir is full, it's likely that parts of the machine are clogged and won't allow the water to move through freely. Begin by taking your Keuring apart. Unplug the machine before doing anything else. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes to allow any water inside to cool, and then remove the reservoir tank and lid, plus the stand that holds your cup. Open up the top and take out the K-cup holder, which is an insert that pops right out. Soak and wash all of these pieces in hot soapy water, then rinse and dry them thoroughly.
Create a cleaning tool by opening one end of a paperclip to make a straight piece with a rounded handle. You can get an official cleaning tool from Keurig by calling them at 1-866-901-2739, but a paperclip will do the exact same job without you having to wait days or weeks for shipping time – or paying extra.
Once you have your tool in hand, look inside the top and locate the needle that pierces the K-cups. It will have three holes along its shaft. Use the paperclip tool to push into each hole, and move it around a bit to loosen and remove any debris that's built up inside. There's no reason to worry about damaging your machine with this technique; there are no moving parts to hurt. All you're doing is unclogging three holes by removing the gunk that has built up over time.
Working From the Bottom Up
A clogged needle is rarely the entire problem with a Keurig that isn't working correctly. Often, the entire system has debris built up inside, so the whole machine needs cleaning from top to bottom. Or bottom to top, as the case may be. The best way to do this is to turn your machine upside down and work at that angle.
Pick up your Keurig and hold it over the sink, leaving the top open. Then turn the machine upside-down. Use the palm of your hand to give the bottom of the machine a few strong smacks. This might seem like a frustrated last resort, but smacking the bottom of a Keurig can actually loosen built-up debris within the workings of the machine. Knocking loose a clog of debris can actually allow a rush of water that's been stuck inside, which is why this is best done over the sink.
Leave the machine upside-down over the sink, and push a drinking straw over the spout. Wrap a damp paper towel over the place where the straw and spout meet, to make the connection as close to air-tight as possible. Blow into the straw, as hard as you can, while keeping the paper towel tight. This will dislodge any scale that's been building up in the water line inside the machine. Whatever debris didn't come loose from you smacking the machine will likely get blown out using the straw. Again, watch for a stream of water to suddenly pour out.
Cleaning and Sanitizing a Keurig
Once your Keurig is unclogged, it still needs a thorough cleaning and sanitizing. Put all the pieces back together, drying them with a lint-free cloth before reassembling them.
Mix up a combination of 50 percent water and 50 percent white vinegar. Do not use straight vinegar for this task, as it can damage the inner workings of your machine. Fill your coffee maker's tank with the vinegar and water mixture, and then run the machine until the entire tank-full has been used up. Discard every cup of hot vinegar water as soon as it's been dispensed.
If your particular machine won't run without having a K-cup pod in place, use an empty pod. All the cleaning you're doing happens before the water hits the pod, so it doesn't matter what's being poured into the cup. You'll be dumping this liquid instead of drinking it, anyway.
Once you've used up the entire tank of vinegar water, do this same step again using plain clear water, filling and emptying it at least twice. Taste the water at the end of the second full tank to make sure there is no vinegar flavor left. If you detect any, go through the cycle one more time with another tank of clear water.
One surefire way to test for any residual vinegar is to drop a pinch of baking soda into that last cup of water. If you see the baking soda fizz up at all, that means there's still a bit of vinegar left in the machine. Keep rinsing until none is left.
Keurig makes and offers a dedicated descaling liquid you can use instead of the vinegar and water mixture. It's a bit more expensive, but Keurig claims it does a better job.
Preventing Future Keurig Problems
A little preventive care can keep your Keurig coffee maker from becoming clogged or breaking down in the future. Start by cleaning the inside of the machine with vinegar and then cold water every three months if you use it at home, and monthly if it's in an office or if you use yours heavily throughout the day.
If you like using a reusable Keurig pod instead of the commercial K-cups, wash the pod regularly, using a small brush to make sure all the holes are free from buildup.
Stop using plain water straight from the tap. It contains extra impurities that can build up over time. Instead, use filtered water or distilled water every time you brew.
Keurig gives you the option of brewing tea, cocoa, soup and other drinks beside coffee. If you like to make these drinks in your Keurig, always rinse the machine by running a plain cup of water through immediately afterward.
If you're going on vacation or not planning to use your Keurig for at least a week, unplug it. After 30 minutes, turn the machine upside down over the sink to completely drain it. Leave the machine upside down in the sink, if possible.
If your Keurig is having problems with indicator lights or any other part of the electrical system, don't attempt to fix it on your own. Leave this repair job to the professionals.
Victoria Bailey owned and managed restaurants for 25 years, from an award-winning gourmet bistro to a pre-hipster artisan coffee house. She's constantly following food and wine trends and has even created her own private coffee bean blend. Bailey's work has been published in a number of industry magazines, and she literally wrote the book (well, one of them) on opening a neighborhood pizza restaurant.